Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

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Friday, December 25, 2015

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day

The Nativity of Our Lord: Christmas Day

December 25, 2015
Text: John 1:1-18

            The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us (John 1:14).  The Word, ὁ λόγος.  That is the Greek on the front of your bulletin, inscribed over the Baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.  And it is exactly right.  This Baby is the Word of our Father, now in flesh appearing.  He is the Word spoken in the beginning.  St. John chooses his words very carefully, by inspiration of the Spirit, and he takes us back to Genesis with the first words of the Holy Gospel.  “In the beginning was the Word” (v. 1; ESV).  That means that Jesus is the Word by which God the Father creates heaven and earth.  He speaks forth creation.  “Let there be light,” He says (Gen. 1:3), and there is light.  He speaks a thing, and it is.  Jesus is the speaking of God.  And not only that, “the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1).  Jesus is God.  He is the eternal Son of the Father, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, the Creator of all things, who with the Father and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns to all eternity.  It is this Word, who is God, who in time becomes flesh and is born of the Virgin Mary.  This God is a Man.  The Creator comes to His creation.  Because everything has gone wrong.  Adam and Eve broke fellowship with God in the Garden.  They rejected His Word.  He came to His own in the cool of the day, but His own would not receive Him.  They hid from Him.  They covered themselves with leaves.  They were afraid because they were naked.  The darkness was taking over.  The serpent had deceived.  Man had earned sin’s wages, which is death.  And the creation which God had declared “very good” (Gen. 1:31), had fallen, held in bondage by the sin and rebellion of Adam and his sons.
            God brought about the creation of the world by the Word.  So if He is to redeem the world, He must once again speak.  And so it is God speaks His Word into the ear and womb of the Virgin Mary, and the Word becomes flesh and blood and be the Savior of all He has made.  The incarnation, we call it, the taking on of our flesh of the Son of God.  That is the theology of Christmas.  John presumes you know the Christmas story from St. Matthew and St. Luke.  We got that last night in the Christmas Eve service.  John gives us the theology of it all.  His is a theological Gospel, but that does not make it impractical.  The problem is sin, darkness, and death.  And you know this by personal experience.  You never measure up.  You are a constant disappointment to yourself, to your loved ones, and to God.  You never know where you are going.  Life is a continual groping around in the dark.  And in the end, you die.  And just so you remember that that is what happens to us all, your loved ones die all around you, and you get sick and suffer injuries, all as a reminder that this will not end well.  Except that God speaks, and Christ, the Savior, is born.
            He is born to die, so that you live.  That is why He must be flesh and blood.  He comes in the flesh to be one with you, to suffer your every weakness and temptation, only without sin.  He comes in the flesh to be your substitute, to take your sins into Himself and to be punished in your place.  He comes to make atonement.  Apart from atonement, there is no justice.  For God to be just, He must punish sin.  But your punishment happens there, on the cross.  God sends His Son, and punishes His Son, that He might be both just and the Justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:26).  The death of Christ on the cross restores creation to the Creator and sinners to the Father.  And so to all who receive Jesus Christ, who believe in His Name, He gives the right to become children of God, born of God (John 1:12-13), children of the heavenly Father, forgiven, restored, and renewed.  You don’t measure up, but Jesus measures up for you.  You continually disappoint, but Jesus doles out grace upon grace on you and all your loved ones, all people, and from His fullness we receive all we need (v. 16).  God looks upon you as perfect and righteous, because He sees only the fullness of His Son.  In Jesus, your sin is done to death, and you are righteous in full measure. 
            Now, you would not know this apart from the Word.  So again, God speaks.  The Light comes into this world of darkness, so that you who are born spiritually blind, may see your salvation.  God speaks Jesus into your ear and into your heart and mind and soul in preaching.  Jesus comes to you.  We often speak of the real presence of Jesus in the Supper, of His true Body and Blood under the bread and wine for our forgiveness, life, and salvation.  That is a very important consequence of Christmas, of the incarnation of our Lord.  When He says He is with us, He means in the flesh!  I have said to my family back home as they celebrate Christmas that I’m with them in spirit.  By which I mean that I’m not with them at all!  I’m half a continent away!  My word cannot make it otherwise.  When Jesus says He’s with us, He really means it.  The Word does not lie.  Jesus speaks Himself present on the altar, in bread and wine.  But consider this.  He is also really present in the speaking of His Word.  It is the living voice of Jesus you hear in Scripture and preaching.  It is the living voice of Jesus you hear forgiving your sins in Absolution.  He speaks a thing, and it is.  He is the Word that is spoken.  Preaching only has power because the Word became flesh.  We preach Christ crucified (1 Cor. 1:23), and that means the crucified and risen Christ comes to you in the preaching.  He comes to you in the flesh as He is preached into your ears, just as surely as He came into the ear and womb of the blessed Virgin. 

            Now, He is poured all over you in your Baptism, the water and the Word that washes away your sins and bespeaks you God’s own forgiven and beloved child.  He is spoken into your ears and your very being by preaching and Absolution.  He is spoken into bread and wine to open your lips and course through your veins in the Sacrament.  And what happens?  The Light comes to grab you up out of the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.  The prince of darkness is foiled again.  His reward is coming, and he also will have to suffer the weeping and gnashing of teeth for all eternity.  But not you.  Your sins are forgiven.  Jesus has paid your debt in full by His blood and death.  And He is risen.  You will not die.  In the end, your loved ones who died in the faith will be restored to you, and you will be healed.  That is the Good News of Christmas.  All that is wrong has been righted in the incarnation of our Lord.  Christmas is nothing less than the re-creation of the world, the restoration of what has been lost, God’s coming in your flesh to be reconciled with you and to clothe you with Himself.  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  And the Word is with you now, in the flesh.  The Word makes all things new.  Including you.  Merry Christmas.  In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.             

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